TE KUITI  2021


Te Kuiti was the venue for this year’s V.K Rally, situated on the northern edge of the King Country, and is better known as a quiet farming and rugby community, but which also sports a small airfield just outside of town.  However, they were soon to be awakened with the sound of our tow plane and to look up to a sky full of sailplanes as everyone started to explore this new and somewhat rolling landscape.

Te Kuiti going back in time also had their own gliding club in the very early 1960’s using a Schneider Kookaburra two seat trainer and a winch to launch with. Piano wire and a limited runway length obviously did not make for high launches and for various reasons the club unfortunately disbanded after only a few short years. Te Kuiti airfield is also the home of the Waitamo Aero club which was founded some 80 years ago. Some private aircraft and several top dressing aircraft operate from here. The iconic club house dates back to the horse racing days of the 1930s and the building’s historical significance is documented in the New Zealand National Archives.  The aero club made us most welcome and we were able to arrange the use of their club house as our ‘base camp’.

Some liked to be part of the great outdoors of course, whilst other members preferred the ambience and structured accommodation regime of a holiday park or motel.    

The weather leading up to this week was superb with the Matamata Competitions having possibly the best run of particularly good country conditions possibly for the whole season.

The big question was, could it, would it, last another fifteen days to cover the seven days of the rally as well?  As it turned out it did and we flew five days out of the seven allocated with only a couple of days of light rain.  This really gave everyone a good rest as the days had been reaching 31 degrees Celsius for most of the week.   

As per our other rallies operating from other ‘independent‘ sites we once again used Jim Lyver’s Fox Bat  LSA (Light Sport Aircraft) ZK-LFD. However, we did change the propeller to a full fine pitch position to better suit the topography environment that we were going to be operating within. A very good turnout of members and their gliders was a pleasing result for the V.K team’s efforts in making this happen. Some 15 sailplanes attended. Even the NZ’s oldest flying glider, the 1949 Eon Baby made a guest appearance.      

Also amongst the mix were a H301 Open Libelle, several PW5s, a Glasflugel Mosquito, several Ka6e’s an ASW20, Ka6cr, 201b Libelle, TeST self-launch motor-glider, Standard Cirrus, Ka8b, and a Briegleb BG 12-16.   

There were a couple of land-outs as members started to further investigate this new area. Taumarunui and the Kawhia harbour seemed to be the main attractions, however, several  sailplanes pushed their way out towards the west coast as well. The Arapuni dam area was also  visited it seems.

Vintage Kiwi Rallies are all about everyone enjoying their own flying environment and a good number did just that, also enjoying the local airspace as well, and what that also had to offer.  A couple of members apparently clocked up over 11 and 15 hrs respectively. All in all a lot of very good flying was achieved overall.

    In the 1930’s Te Kuiti Airfield was at one time an active racecourse. One could still imagine the aero club’s rather grand clubhouse as it was ‘in its’ day‘ - certainly on race day. However, just by the driveway to the clubhouse stands a very old building that once was the totalizator that one used to place bets on a race.  Converted some time ago into a farming utility type of building then later in life, a hanger, this once proud grand old building still stands [only just] giving us all at least a rare glimpse of the airfield’s horse-racing past.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The Vintage & Classic Glider Club of New Zealand Inc